Mobile User Retention Doesn’t Just Happen

By: Kahuna | January 5, 2016 | Growth Marketing, Kahuna
Mobile app user retention tips

In the highly competitive mobile space, merely having a great product isn’t enough to ensure high levels of user retention. The best brands have found a person-centric communication strategy can be the main driver of increased user retention.

“Everyone likes to think that if you have a really great application that everyone wants to use, retention is going to happen no matter what …. that’s not actually true,” said Eduardo Fenili, mobile marketing strategy & partner lead at Kahuna, at a recent Kahuna Labs event.

He said apps like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat have a perception that the user experience is so good that retention is inevitable. The reality is that some of the stickiest apps probably message customers the most but it’s done in a way that adds value, so the communication feels personal and relevant.

User retention data for apps isn’t pretty. The latest Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index shows that without a personalized communication strategy, the average app finds 80% of its newly-acquired users gone after 30 days, with 90% churned after 90 days. As the average cost per install continues to rise, winning brands are focusing on growing ROI by boosting user retention.

Eduardo said you’re never going to get rid of churn entirely but smart, person-centric marketing can help brands of all sizes increase the lifetime value of its customers. The key to this is a strategy that’s built around understanding, engaging and optimizing.

How Person-Centric Marketing Leads to User Retention

While the strategy is divided into three separate stages, Eduardo said brands will be constantly performing all three elements in concert. Still, it’s important to define each stage, as well as the impact it has on long-term user retention.

The best brands need to understand the different parts of the customer lifecycle and have a keen awareness of the steps that are vital for long-term user retention. This can be derived from your product analytics, as well as tools like Google Analytics and in-house tools.

Eduardo advises using an analytics platform that can offer deeper insights into the behavioral patterns of your users like Amplitude. Eduardo advices not creating the user journey but instead learning what the customers wants his or her ideal journey to be, and then help facilitate that through product and messaging.

Engaging is centered around how you interact with your customers across all channels and devices. Your customers are channel-agnostic, said Eduardo, they don’t care about the channel you’re using but they do care that every message is adding value to their lives. In a world where every app is just a few seconds away from being deleted, the stakes are high. Make every message count.

At the same time, Eduardo pointed out that each channel has its own cadence and threshold that users will tolerate. For example, users may not read every single email newsletter they signed up for but they value that it’s in their inbox. For a medium like push notification, brands have the potential to really turn off users if they send too many messages or send messages that aren’t personalized or engaging.

The best brands are thinking about this even before making the system-wide ask for push notification permission (on iOS). Sprig is a great example of this because it uses a splash screen explaining the value of allowing push notifications. The user only sees the official push notification ask screen if they hit the “TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS” button. Because users have explicitly shown they want these communications, the opt-in rates for Sprig are high.

Optimizing means taking all of that information and using it to improve, including making sure marketing messages are going through the best channel, at the right time, on the preferred device of the user. This process is impossible to do manually in real time, so Eduardo said the best brands are leaning on tools that provide automatic optimization through machine learning and big data.

By engaging in these steps, Eduardo said brands can really change their retention curves for the better. Recent data shows embracing intelligent communication can improve 90 day retention by as much as 186%.

You can watch the entire presentation from the Kahuna Labs events below. You can learn more about Kahuna Labs here.

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